The Best Way to Sample Freeze Dried Foods

Freeze dried food samples are a common request that I get.  People want to know where they can find affordable sample packs–and I get why.  Freeze dried food is an investment, and you don’t want to invest in the big ‘ol #10 (gallon) cans until you know you are going to like the stuff and be able to use it.


 Freeze Dried Food Samples Package | The Best Way to Sample Freeze Dried Foods


My favorite freeze dried food sample packs actually aren’t called “sample” packs, but they are what I recommend for that purpose.  They are called Smart Start Dinner Packs (#affiliate), and I believe they are the best possible way to sample freeze dried foods.  Watch the video below, and I’ll tell you why I recommend using these packs as freeze dried food sample packs.

Or, if you don’t want to watch the video, you can read about it below instead!

Note – The links in this post are affiliate links meaning if you purchase after clicking on them, I will be given a small commission (at no additional cost to you).  Learn more here about how I am (and am not) compensated, and thank you for your support of me and my family!

What Are the Smart Start Dinner Packs?

The phrase “Smart Start” means just what it says–these packs are an easy way to get started using freeze dried and other food storage type foods.

Smart Start Packs provide many freeze dried food samples in 2.5 cup pantry cans instead of 11 cup #10 cans.

Thrive Has Many Smart Start Packs

The first ones they released are called Chef Selection Packs(#affiliate)

I honestly don’t love these packs for two reasons: (1) They are pricey (in my opinion) for a sample pack ($200) and (2) They include a lot of basics like bouillon, cornmeal, brown sugar, etc.

These are items you don’t really need to sample.  You likely know what they taste like and how they work in recipes.

The next set of Smart Start Packs that Thrive Life released are called The Taste of Thrive Packs. (#affiliate)

These packs are great!  They are at a reasonable price point ($100), and you get a wide variety of freeze dried food samples.

They also include the Thrive Guide (#affiliate) which is a fantastic resource for using freeze dried foods. It includes hydration instructions, conversions, and tips for each product.


My Favorite Way to Get Freeze Dried Food Samples: The Smart Start Dinner Packs

But my very favorite Smart Start Packs are the newest ones. They are called Dinner Packs (#affiliate). The idea behind these packages is similar to that of Blue Apron or Hello Fresh.  You get all/most of the ingredients that you need to make meals for your family as well as beautiful recipe cards:


 Freeze Dried Food Samples Package | The Best Way to Sample Freeze Dried Foods

They even have step by step instructions (with pictures) on the back:


 Freeze Dried Food Samples Package | The Best Way to Sample Freeze Dried Foods

The reason I love these packages is that they help you sample freeze dried foods in real life.  These packs help you use freeze dried foods in everyday ways–for DINNER!  You can use them to find out what your family enjoys and doesn’t enjoy WITHOUT a bunch of experimentation!

When I first started with freeze dried foods, I did a lot of experimenting and often wasted food because I wasn’t exactly sure how to use it properly.  I melted cheese by hydrating it in warm water, I over cooked my chicken by hydrating it in boiling water, etc.


These packs help you avoid all that!  The recipe cards show you exactly how to use each ingredient in recipes that really work.  That way you get a fair idea of what freeze dried foods can actually taste like and be used for.

The Smart Start Dinner Packs (#affiliate)are the #1 package that I recommend when people ask me for freeze dried food samples.


So, What Is Included in the Smart Start Dinner Packs?

Currently, there are three different Dinner Packs (#affiliate), though I am pretty sure Thrive will be adding more.

Each pack includes nine pantry cans (about 2.5 cups of food), a spice can, and six-seven (beautiful) recipe cards.  Here is a peek at the foods included in my personal favorite Dinner Pack: The Southwest Chicken Dinner Pack:


 Freeze Dried Food Samples Package | The Best Way to Sample Freeze Dried Foods

With those ingredients, you can make the following recipes:

  • Chicken Pasta Skillet
  • Tortilla Soup
  • Corn and Cheddar Biscuits
  • Chicken Fajitas
  • Zesty Black Beans
  • Green Chili and Sweet Corn Brown Rice
  • Effortless Queso Dip

And still have some ingredients left over!

There is also a Pulled Pork Creations Dinner Pack which you can use to make

  • Sweet and Sour Pulled Pork with Rice
  • Open-Faced Pulled Pork Sandwich
  • Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie
  • Pork Chile Verde
  • Spanish Rice
  • Steamed Green Beans with Red Peppers
  • Loaded Mashed Potatoes

And a Home Cookin’ Ground Beef Dinner Pack which you can use to make

  • Hearty Calzone
  • Italian Baked Penne
  • Classic Shepherd’s Pie
  • Weeknight Tacos
  • Loaded Refried Beans
  • Vegetable Medley


I’ve made most of the recipes in each pack, and they are all delicious!  The recipes were created by Chef Todd who is a master chef.  He teaches university culinary courses and really knows his stuff.

Get Started Now!

If you would like to get started with freeze dried foods and have step-by-step pictures to guide you as you do, then you can find the Smart Start Dinner Packs HERE. (#affiliate)


If you have questions about any of the packs or recipes, let me know by leaving a comment, and I will be sure to respond!


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2 thoughts on “The Best Way to Sample Freeze Dried Foods”

  1. I was looking at the Canadian part of your Thrive sales page. I see that the price for shipping is per can. So shipping would be about $50 US? That works out to $67 Canadian for shipping, plus $134 Canadian for each sample pack. How long would shipping take? Is there any cheaper way? Thanks.

    • Hi Cindy! Thrive sets all their own pricing, so I can’t change any of that. I do know that they subsidize shipping as much as possible. I also know the Canadian dollar is frustrating right now. Shipping is $1.50 per pantry can of freeze dried foods and $2.50 for all other pantry cans. So, I think that puts shipping at $17.50 US.


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